food-holidays

Chocolate truffle and more: Celebrate Hot Tea Month with these 8 exotic brews

Jan. 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM ET

Linnea Covington /
Need a sweet warm-up? Aloe Serenity flavored tea might be an option.

Those who ordain food holidays were smart in choosing icy cold January as the time to celebrate National Hot Tea Month. To celebrate, we tried some teas that take a twist on the traditional. With additions of pumpkin, pink peppercorn, chocolate chips, Italian dessert, coconut and even tiny candy lips, these green, black and herbal mixtures took our taste buds for a wild ride.

We tried teas and found some favorites from three companies: old-school Mighty Leaf, new-to-the-USA purveyor David’s Tea and the fun Design a Tea, which lets you customize your tea on their website.

Mighty Leaf:

Aloe Serenity

  • Type: Green tea with rose petals, inulin and aloe.
  • Aroma: If a Fruit Loop was made into a Jolly Rancher and liquefied, this is what it would smell like.
  • Flavor: By adding aloe, the light green tea gets a smooth roundness. The bit of sweet comes from the inulin, which is a plant fiber that supposedly helps you absorb vitamin C. In this tea, the rose loses its perfumey tinge and instead, has a soft hint of floral.
  • Tips: It’s important to only seep this tea for two minutes or it gets bitter fast. That means it’s a quick cup of calm that works best in the afternoon when you need a soothing break with a side of caffeine.
Linnea Covington /

Mayan Chocolate Truffle

  • Type: Herbal tea with chocolate chips, chilies, red pepper, apple and strawberry.
  • Aroma: The first thing that comes to mind while inhaling the sweet smell of this tea is chocolate covered strawberries, which is absolutely tantalizing.
  • Flavor: A lot is going on with this brew, yet the flavors marry lovingly. The initial taste comes across as fruity before a subtle chocolate aftertaste comes in. It doesn’t taste spicy, but there is a definite kick at the back of the tongue from the chili.
  • Tips: It’s caffeine-free, so drink it any time, any place.

David’s Tea:

Linnea Covington /

Read My Lips 

  • Type: Black tea with peppermint, dark chocolate and pink peppercorns.
  • Aroma: It’s like the hot version of mint chocolate-chip ice cream.
  • Flavor: This tea has little lip-shaped candies that add a touch of sweetness to the minty tea. The notes of chocolate and pepper stay subtle and come out only after the sharp mint fades from the palate.
  • Tips: Instead of coffee after a hearty meal, try this refreshing tea instead. It might even sub in for dessert!
Linnea Covington /

Exotica

  • Type: Herbal tea with lemongrass, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pineapple, orange, coconut and pink peppercorn.
  • Aroma: With a strong, fruity aroma heavy on the coconut, the scent conjures up a luau complete with tiki torches and exotic cocktails. 
  • Flavor: Despite the buoyancy herbal tea has, this one remains rich with savory, island-type spices. It almost tastes like a watered-down curry, though the pineapple helps sweeten it.
  • Tips: Like the name, it does lean on the exotic side, and, regardless of the clichés surrounding this phrase, it really does make you feel like you are on vacation.
Linnea Covington /

Jumpy Monkey         

  • Type: Mate with whole coffee beans, white chocolate, almonds and roasted bark and roots
  • Aroma: A clean scent with the faintest traces of chocolate. Surprisingly, the coffee notes don’t come through in the smell.
  • Flavor: The rich earthiness of the classic Argentinean mate gets grounded with the unmistakable hint of coffee. The overall taste of chocolate rounds out the bold plant flavors.
  • Verdict:  Great for a morning jolt or afternoon pick-me-up. And, since this tea only uses ingredients that come from the Rain Forest Alliance, you also feel good about drinking it.

Design a Tea:

Linnea Covington /

Honey Pumpkin

  • Type: Black tea with honey and dried pumpkin.
  • Aroma: This tea smells like you just opened up a pot of honey.
  • Flavor: Though the pumpkin remains hidden behind the heady notes of sweet, golden honey, it grounds the tea with a more earthy flavor.
  • Tips: Great for a morning perk-up or an afternoon tea party.

Zabaglione Apricot

  • Type: Oolong with dried apricot and various other herbs and flowers.
  • Aroma: It has a smooth, sweet scent akin to a fruity hard candy.
  • Flavor: Oolong tea commonly has a mild flavor, which helps the roundness of the apricot to blossom on the tongue. Paired with components to taste like zabaglione—a classic Italian custard sweetened with dessert wine (like Moscato)—the tea has a layer of saccharine without any flavor overpowering the other.
  • Tips: A nice tea-time treat best paired with biscuits or something simple, so the beverage’s flavors can stand out.

Cider Almond

  • Type: Green tea with apple and almond.
  • Aroma: It smells like a light apple cider.
  • Flavor: The grassy green tea gets a dash of fall with a strong apple essence with a hint of almond and warming cinnamon.
  • Tips:  A cup of this tea warms you all the way, so it’s great when coming in from the cold, especially if shoveling snow is involved. Since green tea is lighter than black, it’s also good for those who don’t want too much caffeine later in the day.

Linnea Covington is a freelance writer and eater who will try any drink, dish, or sweet at least once, especially if it involves chili or bourbon. 

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